FOUR Marks Scouts are launching a big fundraising campaign to get the £1m they need to replace their 60-year-old hut with a state-of-the-art building which they hope will also become a new community hall for the village.

In fact their fundraising campaign began four years ago, and Chris Lake, chairman of the Scout group said: “When our Scouts, Cubs and Beavers did everything they could to raise money such as bag packing in Sainsbury’s, serving at the beer festivals, catering for local events, and much more, and we made £90,000, some of which has gone to pay architects fees and getting the planning process activated.”

Now he said they not only needed to “top up the pot” but to attract as much funding as they can to build what will be a light, spacious building with an arch-shaped roof comprising a high-ceilinged central space flanked by four single-storey side extensions.

Inside, there will be a large hall and a second room which can be divided into two smaller ones, ideal for meetings or clubs and arts and crafts classes.

The new heat-exchange system, worked by two gas boilers, will be eco-friendly and one real asset will be the huge storage areas, for all the Scouts equipment, at one end of the hall with a built-in pulley system which, said Mr Lake, “we can use to dry out our tents, which is always a problem after they have got wet. The pulley means we can stretch them up high inside the storage cupboards”.

The hall will have large picture windows looking out onto the playing fields and a verandah along the front where those using the hall can have tea or drinks on summer evenings.

It will be a landmark building in stark contrast to the present 60-year-old hut Four Marks Scouts first started using when they were formed in 1952 when, according to Mr Lake, “we had about 20 or 30 Scouts and Cubs while today we have 160 plus 30 helpers, making us the most successful Scout group in the Rotherfield district”.

And he added: “There is no room left in our old hut, which is in a bad way with a crack along the flooring foundation, and the fabric isn’t very strong and I don’t think it will last much longer.”

Mr Lake said: “It will not only be for our Scouts but for the community as a whole because at present the village hall, parts of which are 100 years old, are having to turn people away because they can’t take all the bookings. So another community building is very much needed, especially now when we have 600 new homes in Four Marks.”

To get the £1m they need the Scouts are seeking donations and grants and have already had help from Four Marks Parish Council who have given them the site – worth £250,000 – where the present hut stands. The council have also promised £10,000 from the Benian Fund and some developer contribution money.

Mr Lake said: “In addition, they have promised an annual £5,000 a year for us out of their annual budget precept and we are also going down the grants route and applying for Lottery funding. We are also asking prominent people to give us a donation however all these things take time so we can’t say when we will get our new building. It would be nice to have it up and running by next year or if not by 2018.”